Did you read it? Ridiculous, right?
I take issue with almost every line of that article, but allow me to point out some of the more incredulous things.
"With Aid to Dependent Children, minority women birthed eight to 10 and in once [sic] case, one woman birthed 24 kids as reported by the Detroit Free Press—all on American taxpayer dollarss [sic]."Throughout this article, "facts" are presented with no substantiation. He claims this stat was reported by the Detroit Free Press, but gives no indication about when it was reported. But the most infuriating element of the above quote is the fact that he felt it necessary to say "minority women," as though white women are intrinsically blessed with the moral character to never leach off the welfare system in the same way as the folks with darker skin.
He goes on to paint a history of Detroit's decline.
"Mayor Coleman Young, perhaps the most corrupt mayor in America, outside of Richard Daley in Chicago, rode Detroit down to its knees. He set the benchmark for cronyism, incompetence and arrogance."Wooldridge's article is dated October 5, 2009. Coleman Young was the mayor of Detroit from 1974 to 1993. At the time Wooldridge's article was published Young had been out of office almost as long as he had been in office and dead for 12 years. In the intervening years we've seen Mayors Dennis Archer, Kwame Kilpatrick, Ken Cockrel Jr., and Dave Bing, who have all served Detroit's needs with varying degrees of success and failure. Why did Wooldridge choose to focus only on Young's mayoral impact if he is talking about the state of Detroit today? I think his answer would be that he was attempting to give some historical context, but that's an awfully arbitrary place to start for historical context of a city that was founded in 1701.
My speculation to the motivation behind Wooldridge's focus on Mayor Young paints it a little more dubiously. Young was Detroit's first black mayor. Detroit has been in a spiraling decline for years. Wooldridge is attempting to make a causal relationship apparent for his readers by attaching these two things in an attempt to bolster his case that multiculturalism is the reason for Detroit's decline.
He goes on to make another causal relationship implicating Coleman Young for Detroit's demise.
"In this week’s Time Magazine October 4, 2009, 'The Tragedy of Detroit: How a great city fell and how it can rise again,' I choked on the writer’s description of what happened.
'If Detroit had been savaged by a hurricane and submerged by a ravenous flood, we'd know a lot more about it,' said Daniel Okrent. 'If drought and carelessness had spread brush fires across the city, we'd see it on the evening news every night. Earthquake, tornadoes, you name it — if natural disaster had devastated the city that was once the living proof of American prosperity, the rest of the country might take notice.
But Detroit, once our fourth largest city, now 11th and slipping rapidly, has had no such luck. Its disaster has long been a slow unwinding that seemed to remove it from the rest of the country. Even the death rattle that in the past year emanated from its signature industry brought more attention to the auto executives than to the people of the city, who had for so long been victimized by their dreadful decision-making.'
As Coleman Young’s corruption brought the city to its knees, no amount of federal dollars could save the incredible payoffs, kick backs and illegality permeating his administration."If I'm not mistaken, Wooldridge just blamed Coleman Young, who died in 1997, for the failure of the Federal government saving the auto industries in 2008 (as predicted by Wooldridge). (At the time of this writing there has been much press about GM's upcoming stock offering which will be designed to help recoup the government's investment. Here's a link. It looks unlikely that the government will get a full return on investment, but it can hardly be called a failure.)
I'm not attempting to defend Coleman Young. I agree with Wooldridge that he set the benchmark for cronyism in Detroit politics. All mayors since have been forced to learn how to navigate through the spiderweb of corruption that Mayor Young spun.
What I am trying to do is put a spotlight on Wooldridge's weak arguments. And an argument gets the weakest when it's an outright lie.
"Today, you hear Muslim calls to worship over the city like a new American Baghdad with hundreds of Islamic mosques in Michigan, paid for by Saudi Arabia oil money."If you click here you can download a PDF that is titled "A Portrait of Detroit Mosques". It was published in 2004 by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) which "is an independent nonprofit research organization committed to studying US domestic and foreign policy" according ISPU's website. As of 2004, there were 33 mosques in Detroit. It's difficult to pin down a total number of mosques in Michigan. Perhaps it is in the hundreds as Wooldridge claims. But I went to school in Detroit from 1998 to 2003 and have worked in Detroit from 2007 to present. I also spend a lot of time in Detroit on the weekends and have done so since the mid 90s. I have never once heard a Muslim call to worship.
Wooldridge ends his article with this:
"Multiculturalism: what a perfect method to kill our language, culture, country and way of life."And it makes me wonder: what's the other option? If America doesn't support multiculturalism, is uniculturalism the other choice? What are the demographics of that one culture? How should we treat those that don't fit those parameters? Do Native Americans apply to this new standard? Maybe Native American culture ought to be the new standard since Wooldridge seems to be against letting the newcomers define how the culture evolves on this continent.
Ok, so Wooldridge is a racist, closed minded simpleton. No need to hammer that home any further. But I would like to address something else. Wooldridge says in his title "Multiculturalism Destroyed Detroit." I reject the premise that Detroit has been destroyed.
"Destroy" implies finality. Taken from dictionary.com, the definitions of "destroy" include:
1. to reduce (an object) to useless fragments, a useless form, or remains, as by rending, burning, or dissolving; injure beyond repair or renewal; demolish; ruin; annihilate.
2. to put an end to; extinguish.
3. to kill; slay.
4. to render ineffective or useless; nullify; neutralize; invalidate.
5. to defeat completely.
Granted, Detroit's population decline has been highlighted and reported so much that it's become cliche. Same with Detroit's crime statistics and unsolved murder case. Have these blights destroyed Detroit? Not by a long shot.
Exhibit A: Single Barrel Detroit
Taken from Single Barrel's website:
"Part urban explorer and part filmmaker, we bring you the sights and sounds of Detroit. With colliding passions for music and location, we capture live music performances in unique and inspiring locations around Detroit."
what is SINGLE BARREL DETROIT? from SINGLE . BARREL . DETROIT on Vimeo.
Exhibit B: Palladium Boots presents "Detroit Lives" featuring Johnny Knoxville.
Palladium is a boot company. Yes. A boot company. Advertising isn't merely making a 30 second montage featuring your product anymore. Advertising is folding your brand into the culture that you want to buy your brand's products. Palladium does this expertly in this honest depiction of Detroit. Here are all three parts to the documentary plus the bonus video for your viewing pleasure:
Exhibit C: College for Creative Studies (CCS). (full disclosure: I'm adjunct faculty at CCS and teach an Intro to Digital Video course) CCS is one of the country's premiere art schools. CCS recently expanded into the Taubman Center. Taken from CCS' website:
"CCS’s A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education opened for classes on Tuesday, September 8, 2009. The Taubman Center, located in Detroit’s New Center, is an integrated educational community, focused on art and design, extending from middle school through graduate school and beyond into the professional realm. The $145 million redevelopment of the Taubman Center, which incorporated many environmentally sustainable green practices, addresses CCS’s pressing need for new programs, academic space and student housing, and will be a major contributor to economic development, neighborhood revitalization and public education improvement in Detroit."Exhibit D: Wayne State University (WSU). (Full disclosure: I graduated from WSU in 2003 and loved every minute of my time there.) Taken from WSU's website:
"Excellent academic programs that directly relate to the world outside college. Distinguished faculty. First-rate facilities. A beautiful 200-acre urban campus. A diverse student body with students from 49 states and more than 70 countries. This is what makes Wayne State. While you're here, your college experience will be stimulating, proactive and fun."
Exhibit E: The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). Taken from the DIA's website:
"The museum covers 658,000 square feet that includes more than 100 galleries, a 1,150-seat auditorium, a 380-seat lecture/recital hall, an art reference library, and a state-of-the-art conservation services laboratory.
The DIA's collection is among the top six in the United States, comprising a multicultural and multinational survey of human creativity from prehistory through the 21st century. The foundation was laid by William Valentiner, a scholar and art historian from Berlin, who was director from 1924 to 1945 . His extensive contacts in Europe, along with support from generous patrons, enabled him to acquire many important works that established the framework of today's collections. Among the notable acquisitions during his tenure are Mexican artist Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry fresco cycle, which Rivera considered his most successful work, and Vincent Van Gogh's Self Portrait, the first van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum collection."Exhibit F: Urban Farming. With an abundance of vacant land that was little more than overgrowth and dumping grounds, an urban farming movement has exploded in Detroit. Directors Mascha and Manfred Poppenck highlighted how one school in Detroit capitalized on this movement to teach their students about agriculture and business in their curriculum in the award winning film Grown In Detroit. Check out the preview:
'Grown in Detroit' trailer of award winning documentary from Mascha Poppenk on Vimeo.
Exhibit G: Eastern Market. Taken from Eastern Market's website:
"As many as 40,000 people flock to Eastern Market for its Saturday Market to enjoy one of the most authentic urban adventures in the United States. The market and the adjacent district are rare finds in a global economy - a local food district with more than 250 independent vendors and merchants processing, wholesaling, and retailing food."Here's a video highlighting flower weekend at Eastern Market:
Exhibit H: The Mower Gang.
The Mower Gang is an all volunteer group working to clear up the overgrowth of Detroit. Taken from The Mower Gang's website:
"The Mower Gang mows public land in Detroit. These are abandoned parks that the city can no longer afford to keep in good repair. Rather than see them abandoned, the Mower Gang swoops in and keeps the weeds from taking over. We also have fun doing it. Mower Gang events are one-part biker rally and one-part cleanup.
Here is the Dorais Velodrome before the Mower Gang Arrived
Here is the Dorais Velodrome after we cleared it. We cleared the entire 0.2 mile.
Here is Riverside Park before we arrived.
Here is Riverside Park after the Mower Gang worked it over."
Okay, this blog is starting to get unruly. If I spent all the time necessary to count all the ways I loved Detroit, I'd be writing this blog for an infinitely long time. Because unlike Wooldridge's assertion that Detroit has been destroyed, it's actually well into its renaissance. Just like Detroit precipitated the economic collapse of the country, so too will it precipitate its recovery.